Reader Question: So we are looking to move our entire family (Husband, myself, 4 kids ages: 14,11,6 and 5) for 6 months to Tulum/Akumal. Our main purpose is for us and the kids to learn Spanish through immersion (my husband and I have an academic foundation but need to immerse to become fluent and our children have no foundation or Spanish knowledge).
We also are excited to not only learn Spanish but have an adventure. We are not sure if we can afford 4 kids in Private school for 4-500/month each. So we are looking into the public school system. As a Canadian will they even let you enroll your children in public school? Are the Tulum and Akumal public schools safe for kids? We are not concerned about the academics, we want them to learn to speak Spanish, have a cultural experience, make friends, etc--but our number one concern is safety. Any direction I could get on this would be very helpful. I also plan to purchase your Tulum guide...will this information be in your guide?
Oh one other question...are there any good childcare centres for a baby (less than 2 years old) in Tulum that are reputable and safe? In addition to our other four school-age children we have a 17 month old and my husband and I will be enrolled in Spanish school for about 5 hours a day and will need a caregiver for our baby during that time (the others kids will be at school). Any advice?
My Reply: There are many great schools in the Mayan Riviera. As I've said before, this region is very safe and full of tourists, so there aren't really any "BAD" schools (like gang-infested, or anything like that).
However, public schools in Mexico do have issues with underfunding, and those who CAN afford to send their kids to private schools usually do. Private schooling costs around $400 a month per student, but it can vary.
The public school system is only for Mexicans, (not sure if that applies to legal residents with permanent residency) so that's a hurdle. You should really consider applying for permanent residency if you are going to make such a drastic change and try to enroll your kids in school. Moving for only six months with the intention of throwing your kids into a foreign public school with no plans for permanent residency sounds drastic to me.
As for daycare centers, there are plenty in Playa del Carmen, but not really any that I'm aware of in Tulum. However, that being said, household help is so affordable in Mexico--any type of labor, really. What we paid for full time care for three kids in the US (about $1,300) would cover a full time nanny, housekeeper, as well as RENT in that region. A hundred dollars a week is a huge amount of money down there, even in the tourist regions.
Just as a comparison, it's not unusual for a day laborer to work 8 hours in the fields and take home only 60-70 pesos (about 5 USD for a full day's work).
So getting household help would be the easiest and cheapest solution. You just have to find someone that you trust. We've always had good luck, and there are plenty of women that have raised their children and now are looking for domestic work. I can't emphasize that enough.
That being said, it's so beautiful down here, if you can make it work, it's like living in paradise.
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